RoMedical Care Sam Moir Christmas Classic: Salisbury girls 59, North Rowan 42

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 29, 2006

By Bill Kiser

Salisbury Post

Entering the season, coaches and players both believed winning another RoMedical Care Sam Moir Christmas Classic title would be a tough chore for Salisbury’s girls basketball team.

But the Hornets made it look easy, crushing top-seeded North Rowan 59-42 on Friday night at Catawba’s Goodman Gymnasium for their tournament-record fourth consecutive championship.

Salisbury (9-2), seeded second in the seven-team field, won its fifth title overall by the largest margin of victory in a Moir Classic final since 1993, when Davie County beat East Rowan by 19 points. The tournament record is 34 points, set by West Rowan in 1992 over East.

And that came from a Hornets team that has just two seniors on its 11-player squad, and a starting lineup that featured two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.

“It’s because of the talent level of this team,” Salisbury head coach Jennifer Shoaf said. “We’ve got people who can get the job done, and that’s to our advantage. This team has the talent to do what the teams before them have done.”

One of those underclassmen — sophomore Shi-Heria Shipp — was named the tournament’s most valuable player. On Friday, she scored 13 points and added six rebounds and four steals for the Hornets, who won their sixth straight game.

Junior Kwameshia Hicks, one of three Salisbury players voted onto the all-Moir Classic team, scored a game-high 17 points and junior Shanae Knox added 12 for the Hornets, who shot 43.5 percent from the field.

“They were talking junk the whole time,” Shipp said of North Rowan, which had won seven straight games entering Friday’s tourney final. “But we came out focused. We came out ready to play.”

It showed against the Cavaliers (9-2) — playing in the Moir Classic finals for the third straight year and the ninth time in school history — who shot just 32.7 percent from the field and were forced into 26 turnovers (15 off steals) by Salisbury.

The Hornets were able to take advantage, with nearly half of their points (28) coming off the giveaways. By comparison, Salisbury committed just 14 turnovers (only four off Cavs steals), leading to 11 North points.

Sierra Ingram had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavaliers, and Shemieka Brown added 13 points.

“We missed too many shots,” North head coach Mike White said. “That’s what killed us. We can’t do stuff like that against a good team, and they’re a good team. They played us man-to-man, which we wanted to see, but we didn’t handle the pressure well.

“They made it look easy because they outplayed us. They looked like basketball players … and we didn’t do anything on our game plan.”

The lone advantage North Rowan — which last won the Moir Classic title in 2002 — had was its inside game, outrebounding the Hornets 36-33. But the Cavaliers converted only a few of their second- and third-chance shots into points.

“Our quickness was a little bit of a problem for them,” Shoaf said. “They were bigger, but we were quicker. We really wanted to take advantage of that.

“Our biggest concern was getting rebounds — they got a lot of second-chance points — but we kept fighting and fighting, and kept trying to box them out. Luckily enough, we built enough of a lead where not getting rebounds didn’t hurt us.”

Salisbury led from nearly the opening tip, going ahead 14-8 by the end of the first quarter and building that into its first double-digit lead midway through the second when Shipp hit a pair of free throws with 4:18 left to put the Hornets up 20-10.

That would be the closest the Cavaliers would get to catching Salisbury, which took its biggest lead of the game (18 points) when Bubbles Phifer’s free throw with 3:29 left put the Hornets ahead 50-32.

salisbury (59) — Hicks 17, Shipp 13, Knox 12, B. Phifer 8, Wylie 6, Rice 3, Williams, N. Phifer, Gallagher.

north rowan (42) — Ingram 13, Brown 13, Wilks 6, Thelwell 6, Casey 4, Turner, Bethea, Rice, Parker, Cuthbertson.

Salisbury 14 15 12 18 — 59

N. Rowan 8 10 12 12 — 42

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Contact Bill Kiser at sports@salisburypost.com.

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